Congrats to Chris Posbergh

Posbergh Earns Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship

Taking on one of the hottest topics in the sheep industry paid off for Chris Posbergh when he was named the winner of the 2016 Sheep Heritage Foundation scholarship in mid-July. The scholarship award is $3,000 this year.

A Ph.D. student at New York’s Cornell University – where he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science in May 2015 – Posbergh’s research project is Increasing Efficiency in Sheep Production Using Genetics. Specifically, he has two objectives: to identify genetic variants responsible for mature body size and to identify genetic variants responsible for out of season lambing.

In the first part of his study, Posbergh hopes, “DNA markers can be developed to allow breeders to control selection for mature size earlier in a sheep’s life.” But it’s the second part of his project that could play an important role in the future of the sheep industry.

“By analyzing lambing records from flocks selecting for aseasonality, we identified individuals that consistently lambed or failed to lamb out of season,” he wrote in his scholarship application. “The long-term goal is to develop genetic markers that breeders can use to select for ewes that are more likely to lamb out of season. Both of these objectives work toward increasing the efficiency of the industry by reducing maintenance costs associated with large size and increasing the productivity of ewes through year-round lambing.”

A New Jersey native, his first exposure to the sheep industry came when his dad brought home a bottle lamb from work. Posbergh went on to show sheep through 4-H and has counted Dorset and Romneys in his personal flock. He took the reigns as president of the American Romney Breeders Association in August of 2015. Most of his research work with sheep has focused on animal genetics. He’s also interested in natural wool colors and hopes to incorporate a study of color into future work.

Source: American Sheep Industry Weekly July 22, 2016

Purina Recalls Medicated Sheep Feed Distributed to PA and OH Due to Elevated Copper Level

Purina Animal Nutrition Initiates Recall of Purina Medicated Sheep Feed due to Elevated Copper Level
Purina Animal Nutrition Initiates Recall of Purina Medicated Sheep Feed due to Elevated Copper Level – Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is voluntarily recalling one lot of Purina® Lamb Grower® B30 Medicated Sheep Feed packaged in the green and white generic paper LAND O LAKES® Feed bags.

The single lot number is:

Formula No. L329
Item No. 1850500-206
Description – Purina® Lamb Grower® B30 Medicated
Lot No. 6MAY06WCH2

The product was distributed in Ohio and Pennsylvania during the dates of May 12, 2016 through June 22, 2016.

Visit our home page at

Contact Governor to Support NJ S-929 Farmland Preservation

Preserve NJ Act is out of money…your help is needed to secure funding….

Please contact the Governor and ask him to sign S-929 the Preserve NJ Act that implements the constitutional dedication of 4% of the Corporate Business Tax (CBT) to Green Acres, Farmland and Historic Preservation
Call today! Leave your message! Office of the Governor 609-292-6000
The farmland preservation program is out of money. Need your help.

Source: NJ Farm Bureau

International Heritage Breeds Week & Day May 15-21, 2016

About International Heritage Breeds Week & Day

Save the Date for May 15-21, 2016!

Read last year’s Official Press Release


The first annual Heritage Breeds Week was held in May, 2015 across the United States to raise awareness about nearly 200 endangered heritage breeds of livestock and poultry. A national campaign was launched by The Livestock Conservancy promoting the weeklong event and heritage breed farmers, enthusiasts, and the public were encouraged to spread the word throughout their networks. The week of awareness culminated on with National Heritage Breeds Day where many farms and ranches held local events such as farm tours, workshops, or lectures to raise awareness in their communities.

The event was so successful in its first year that The Livestock Conservancy has partnered with livestock conservation organizations from around the world to host International Heritage Breeds Week and Day in 2016.


International Heritage Breeds Week aims to raise awareness about endangered heritage breeds of livestock and poultry. Many of our traditional livestock breeds have been replaced with more “improved” breeds in modern animal agriculture, at the expense of a massive loss in genetic diversity. Worldwide, about one domesticated livestock breed every month is lost to extinction.


“To protect endangered livestock and poultry breeds from extinction.”


International Heritage Breeds Week will be held during the third full week of May each year, with Interational Heritage Breeds Day being held the ending Saturday of that week.

Participating National Organizations

Ways You Can Participate…


Educate and Advocate

International Heritage Breeds Week is an opportunity for livestock conservation organization members, fans, and sponsors to advocate for conservation of heritage breeds in agriculture. It’s a time to share with local, state, national, and international audiences what livestock conservation is all about and the impact it has on heritage breeds and agriculture every day. Help us promote International Heritage Breeds Week and Day by word-of-mouth, through social media, and to your local press.

Download Promotional Materials

Host an Event!

Host a classroom field trip to a local heritage breed farm or ranch or to a historical farm with heritage breeds in your area. Or, bring the breeds to the classroom! This provides a great opportunity for children to learn about the importance of genetic diversity and conserving heritage breeds.

Invite one or more state legislators to visit local farms and ranches or set up a visit to their state office. Leave them with livestock conservation materials and samples of heritage breed products.

Adopt-a-Nursing Home
Visit a local nursing home and consider taking heritage breed animals with you. Many older folks once raised heritage breeds and will appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with the animals.

Farmer’s Markets
Local Farmer’s Markets are a wonderful place to emphasize the importance of heritage breeds. Arrange to have music, samples, fun games for kids and make a day of it.

Heritage Breed Petting Zoo
Organize a petting zoo where children and their parents can see heritage breed animals and learn more about them. Provide your own animals, or work with local farmers and ranchers to provide the animals.

Host a Celebrity
Invite a local celebrity who is familiar with heritage breeds, raises them; or has a friend or family member who has been involved with them and request sponsorship of International Heritage Breeds Week. Hold an event and ask the celebrity to speak about a personal experience involving heritage breeds.

Library Display
Approach your local public or school libraries about organizing an exhibit during International Heritage Breeds Week. You might offer to arrange for a speaker or a lecture series about agriculture. Books about rural communities, animals, farms, etc., could be part of a special International Heritage Breeds Week section that encourages children to learn more about agriculture and how it affects their lives. The Livestock Conservancy’s new book An Introduction to Heritage Breeds is a wonderful addition to any library.

National Heritage Breeds Day Breakfast
Host a Heritage Breeds breakfast for local government and business leaders. Identify a keynote speaker to talk about heritage breeds and plan your menu around locally grown and raised agricultural products.

Organize a Fundraiser
Host a fundraiser, such as a walk-a-thon, and donate money to national conservation organizations like The Livestock Conservancy and/or a breed’s registry, club, or association. Emphasize the importance of heritage breeds in the nation’s agricultural system; pay tribute to a local farmer; or recognize all farmers who raise heritage breeds year-round.

Public Contest
Sponsor a community-wide event, such as a coloring or poem-writing contest for students. The children could acknowledge their breed or species. The drawings or poems could be displayed in local schools, hospitals, or nursing homes.

Public Exhibit
Showcase an exhibit at your local mall, shopping center, or public area to introduce the public to heritage breeds. Include examples of heritage breed products like wool, cheese, or eggs, as well as information on how these products are produced. Contact other local heritage breed producers to collaborate and display items and information. Consider conducting outreach and education in urban and underserved areas.

School Lunches
Encourage elementary schools to designate a day during National Heritage Breeds Week to distribute quizzes and puzzles with school lunches. This can also serve as an opportunity to explain the connection between farms and foods on the table. Contact your state’s School Food Service Association for guidance. Or, with cooperation of the school, donate items (milk, ice cream, meat, cheese, etc.).

Shows and Fairs
Promote a positive image of heritage breed conservation by sponsoring a local show or fair. Consider including exhibits, food stands, live animals or entertainment.

Tell the World!

  • Write and distribute a press release announcing National Heritage Breeds Day and/or National Heritage Breeds Week.
  • Place an article in your state or local newspaper(s) or a community blog about National Heritage Breeds Week and the contributions of heritage breeds to global Agriculture.
  • Host a press conference. Discuss an important agricultural issue in your community; honor a farmer or rancher; or bestow an “honorary” farmer title to a deserving politician or civic leader.
  • Host an editorial board meeting with leading state or local newspapers. Discuss the importance of heritage breeds on your farm or ranch and ways the public can become more involved in supporting rare breed conservation.
  • Suggest that your state or local newspaper solicit stories from heritage breed farmers or ranchers to discuss how they are working first-hand to protect genetic diversity and endangered breeds.
  • Follow and tag livestock conservation organizations on social media and use #HeritageBreedsWeek to show us how you’re participating!

Rare Breeds Trust of Australia (

Heritage Livestock Club of Eastern Ontario (@HLCEO) (

Asociacin de Criadores de Bovinos de Razas Criollas y Colombianas de los Llanos Orientales Colombianos (@GanadoCriolloCo) (

SAVE Foundation (

Actas Iberoamericanas en Conservación Animal


Latin America:

Traspatio Iberoamericano (TRASIBER) 

Sociedade Portuguesa de Recursos Genéticos Animais

United Kingdom:
Rare Breeds Survival Trust 
(@RBSTrarebreeds) (

United States: 
The Livestock Conservancy (@LConservancy) (
National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) (@USDA_ARS)
Smithsonian & SVF Biodiversity Preservation Project (


No rest for the weary during lambing season Spring means all hands on deck at Maine’s largest sheep farm in Windham

On a chilly April morning Chris Basford, the flock manager at North Star Sheep Farm in Windham, sits on a pile of hay, bottle-feeding a 10-day-old lamb.

“All done, little girl,” he says, as he gently rubs her charcoal-colored ears.

Basford, 28, started his day at dawn. There’s no telling when he’ll be able to head home for a few hours sleep.

“I sleep when I can get a chance,” he says. “You can never really plan, because there’s always something. You’re ready to leave at the end of the night, and another one’s having a baby.”

Welcome to lambing season at Maine’s largest sheep farm.

For Basford, the sight of a healthy newborn still has the power to thrill.

“I’m always happy to see the moms accept their babies and know that I’ve helped them.”

Chris Basford, the flock manager at North Star Sheep Farm, bottle feeds a 10-day-old lamb. When the spring lambing season is underway it's all hands on deck at Maine's largest sheep farm.

Chris Basford, the flock manager at North Star Sheep Farm, bottle feeds a 10-day-old lamb. When the spring lambing season is underway it’s all hands on deck at Maine’s largest sheep farm.

North Star Sheep Farm is owned by Phillip Webster, a fifth-generation sheep farmer, and his wife, Lisa. The round-the-clock demands that come with this rite of spring are just part of the job.

“We’re there if there’s an issue, if there’s a problem, if there’s a mama in danger,” says Lisa, 53. “You never know when a situation is going to arise that you have to take care of.”

They average about 40 newborns a day – that’s more than 3,000 lambs born from late February through May.

“There are days when it feels like you’re working in an emergency room,” says Phillip, 54. “Everything happens so fast.”

Come spring, North Star Sheep Farm’s eight-person crew slips into high gear.

“Farming isn’t a part-time job,” Lisa says, “unless you have just a very few animals, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you really are all in on this, it’s a lot of hours.”

And a lot of territory to cover.

Along with their 125-acre property in Windham, they lease two farms in New Gloucester.

Most of the spring and fall lambing is done in Windham. The pregnant ewes spend the few days before they give birth – and about three days afterward – in what can best be described as the farm’s maternity ward: a series of individual pens lined with fresh hay in two attached barns. Separating each mother and her babies from other ewes encourages them to bond. Most will give birth to twins or triplets.

When the lambs are about 1 week old, they roam free within the confines of the fenced-in pastures.

“The way we farm and the way we care for our animals is exactly as it was when we were a flock of 125 sheep,” Lisa says.

“One of the things that’s important to me and to my staff is we’re going to give (the animals) the best life they can possibly have,” Phillip says. “They’re not going to be (kept) in little small areas or boxed in.”

Lisa Webster, who owns North Star Sheep Farm with her husband, Phillip, holds a lamb in one of the barns where pregnant ewes wait to give birth. Lambing season is a round-the-clock job for the Websters and their eight-person crew.

Lisa Webster, who owns North Star Sheep Farm with her husband, Phillip, holds a lamb in one of the barns where pregnant ewes wait to give birth. Lambing season is a round-the-clock job for the Websters and their eight-person crew.

The Websters also raise pigs, rabbits and chickens. But sheep are the mainstay.

“Sustainability is everything,” Phillip says. “We try to figure out ways we can use all of our products. That goes right from wool to meat to manure.”

North Star sells its wool to the Bartlett Mill in central Maine, where it’s made into yarn. It sells its meat to a number of retailers in Maine, including Whole Foods, Hannaford and Rosemont Market, and also provides lamb to some of Maine’s higher-end restaurants and to out-of-state retail and food service customers.

Phillip makes all the deliveries himself, driving hundreds of miles every day throughout Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and upstate New York. He can’t remember the last time he had a day off. But you won’t hear any complaints from him.

“It’s a great life,” he says. “You’re not gonna get rich at it, but if you work really hard you can make a living at it.”

Just don’t expect to get much of a break when spring turns to summer.

“Just as we get all the babies on the ground, the grass is going to start growing. So then we can start haying morning, noon and night,” Lisa says with a laugh.


Source : Press Herald, 2016 April 11

Video available at original website, requires Flash player.

Wool Pellets for Gardening – Marketing Raw Wool

Wool Pellets (patent pending) are a brand new way to grow healthy, happy, all natural plants.  As our newest and most innovative product, Wool Pellets are made from 100 % American raw wool and provide fertilizer, porosity, and water wise holding ability to your plants.  Wool is sheared from our sheep and other  ranchers’ sheep each spring some of this wool is sold to make clothes.  However belly wool and wool from around the back end of the sheep(called “tags”) is what we use to make Wooley Water Wise Wool Pellets.  Wool Pellets have a fertilizer value of 9-1-2 NPK, plus they have Calcium, Magnesium,Iron, Sulfur, and other Micro nutrients in just the right amounts.
​Wild Valley Farms has partnered with Pineae Greenhouses to create the Wooley Water Wise hanging baskets which will be available through Costco spring of 2016.

​Wool Pellets are more than a fertilizer because:

  • Ability to hold 20 times their weight in water helping to reduce the times you water.
  • By holding water they can wick away extra water protecting your plants from over watering.
  • Wool pellets also expand when added to the soil helping to increase porosity for optimal root growth.  Reducing the need for additives like Perlite.
  • Wool Pellets are slow release helping your plants grow all year long.
  • Wool Pellets are All Natural, Organic, Sustainable, and Renewable.  They are made from 100% raw wool from U.S.  ranchers.
  • Wool Pellets improve your soil!
  • Wool Pellets also repeal slugs and snails.


Sheep Shearing Training

90 Minute DVD from Doug Rathke, NZ trained USA shearing instructor since 1988 ($45).

Sheep Shearing Video

Strong demand has prompted Doug Rathke to put together an instructional sheep shearing called “Sheep Shearing Made Easy”.  This video is designed both for the beginner and for those who have already been shearing and are interested in improving their shearing technique to increase speed and efficiency of the job and to minimize stress to the animal.

This 90 minute “how-to” video takes the viewer step by step through the basics of shearing including preparing for shearing, shearing clothing, fitness, understanding and appreciation of shearing gear, selecting combs and cutters, setting up a hand piece, and setting the shearing work area.

The core of the video is dedicated to shearing patterns and techniques.  Not only does the video patiently show the basic shearing pattern and footwork, it also explains the modifications of the shearing pattern for different types of sheep. Each shearing blow is explained as Rathke demonstrates the procedure. Tips are also given on how to hold the hand piece for maximum blow width, thereby avoiding extra work and costly second cuts.

Order DVD now.

Also holds sheep shearing schools, located in Hutchinson Minnesota – check his web site for schedule.


Update on a Geep – Hybrid Sheep Goat Born March 2014

The return of the geep: two years on.  By Amy McShane on 29 January 2016

The geep is now two years old.

It’s been almost two years on from the birth of the sheep-goat hybrid.

A farm in Kildare is home to the geep, who was born in March 2014. Owner of the farm Paddy Murphy said at the time that “it had all the hallmarks of a goat. He looks like a goat trapped in a lamb’s body.”

Full Story and videos: